Training on the Road

Landed in Seattle last week after a 6 hour flight/10+ hours of traveling and had to get something in, had to just move a little bit. Not the greatest set up here at the hotel gym (50lb. DB was the limit) but while on the road you need to make it work with what you have. Here’s what I did… 20 minutes, as many rounds as possible.

DB Snatch x3
1DB 1-Leg RDL x8 each
Alternating DB Bench Press x8 each
Goblet Split Squat x8 each
DB Row x8 each
Treadmill Tempo Runs x10

No excuses, make your own health a priority.

Charlie Weingroff Quotes to Make You Think

Recently I was looking back through some of my notes that I have taken when listening to some podcasts. In doing so I realized that Charlie Weingroff has some really good thoughts and quotes that really make you think, many of which are worth sharing. And since I’m all about things that make you think a little and grow as a strength coach, I thought I would share some of the quotes that I found to be the most thought provoking.

Enjoy!

1. If you have symmetrical 2’s (FMS) and an athlete still isn’t good at something, it’s a coaching issue.

2. The goal of strength & conditioning is to develop athletes that are fit and resilient enough to deal with the demands of their sport.

3. You can’t coach someone through a stiff joint.

4. If you try to train in positions that the body doesn’t own…that’s an injury risk.

5. Fitness is just becoming resilient to stress.

6. Corrective exercise should change a movement immediately. If it doesn’t, it probably never will.

7. You can have a strong core in one pattern, yet not in another.

8. Loss in centration in one joint leads to loss of centration in every other joint.

9. Use enough weight in the get up and let the weight teach you to be in the right position.

10. Lactic capacity is the monster.

11. FMS: Can the joints get into the correct positions to absorb and adapt to stress?

12. If you can’t do something correctly and do it anyway, you’ll eventually lose.

13. It’s not that hard to be cutting edge, you just need to be willing to learn.

14. Do you have to use barbells? Do you have to use kettlebells? No, you have to win.

15. Biomechanics and EMG don’t lie, they just don’t tell the whole story.

16. If something doesn’t change the way you move or make you more fit, it’s a warm up or a cool down.

17. Move well enough, move strong enough, move for a long period of time.

18. The most important core muscle is the diaphragm.

19. More people would rather do it their way, the way their comfortable, the way they were first taught, instead of doing what’s right.

20. Russian twists (flexion & rotation) are a great way to crush your spine in an inefficient manner. If there is one thing the spine hates, it’s the combination of flexion and rotation.

21. Stability is control in the presence of change.

22. I could give two shits what they can lift in the weight room. I only care what they do in sport.

23. You can have a ton of 21’s on the FMS, but if your training is terrible they’ll still end up hurt.
24. Little girls that can do pull ups don’t sprain their ankles.

Random Thoughts: July Edition

Here is a very random post that has 20 different thoughts that have been going through my head. Enjoy!

1. It is by no means an absolute, but I think athletes that can perform legit sets of 1-Leg Squats are going to be less likely to tear an ACL. Lots of proprioception, stability and a lot more strength required then most people give the exercise credit for.

2. You should never get hurt during strength training or because of strength training – strength training is essentially performed so people don’t get hurt!

3. Lateral sled work is grossly underrated. For any athlete/sport that has a tendency to have groin injuries (hockey, soccer) lateral sled crossovers are a phenomenal way to strengthen the adductors in an extremely functional way and are also extremely important for athletes that play a sport that requires them to cut a lot. Additionally, getting into the frontal plane is always a win.

4. Athletes don’t buy into coaching, they buy into coaches.

5. Performing some version of Turkish Get Up’s every single day may go a long way in improving T-Spine mobility.

6. If your clients are terrible, you’re a terrible trainer. If their technique sucks, you suck. – Mike Boyle

7. The two biggest issues in our field are stupidity and ego.

8. After working with the hockey population for a decent amount of time, it is clear that glute function is a major issue, most likely because of tight hip flexors. Bridging is much more difficult then it should be…therefore I think more bridging is always a good thing for the hockey athlete.

9. Something we’ve played around with is pairing low level corrective exercises and core exercises with our power work. This seems to be a great way to build in enough time to recover between sets.

10. Everyone wants to test well, but ultimately what matters most is how they play their sport and staying healthy. Too many people spend too much time trying to chase numbers that don’t and won’t help them at their sport.

Linear Acceleration

Want to improve acceleration? Push a heavy sled.

One of the biggest misconceptions is that sports are about speed. They aren’t. Team sports are all about acceleration, not top speed. And it doesn’t matter what sport you play, improving acceleration will enhance athletic performance.

Bolt

Heavy sleds develop specific strength that targets the exact muscles used in sprinting/acceleration, something that nothing else can emulate. The sled teaches the athlete to produce force in a forward motion just like they would in sprinting/acceleration.

sled push

In addition and often overlooked, sleds can also be great in-season, as there is no eccentric portion of the movement and soreness shouldn’t be an issue.

Simple Off-Season Progression: Sled March, Sled Sprint, Contrast March to Sprint

Our General Warm Up Template

It isn’t too often that I hear much when it comes to warming up. There is plenty of talk when it comes to Olympic lifting, strength training and some talk as it pertains to conditioning. But not so much when it comes to warming up. However, we put a lot of thought into our warm up period. We follow the same template for our warm up every single time we walk into the weight room, whether it is in-season or the off-season.

Foam Roll: We spend approximately 5 minutes on the foam roller and/or lacrosse ball, hitting every single muscle group with the hope of improving tissue quality. I would argue there is no more important quality than tissue quality and it is something we never skip, especially in-season when trying to do everything we can to keep athletes healthy and feeling well.

Breathing: We toss the rollers to the side and do some diaphragmatic breathing every day. If you aren’t aware of the benefits of diaphragmatic breathing, there is a ton of info out there that you probably want to start digging into.

Static Stretching and/or Mobility: Once tissue quality is addressed tissue length is addressed. We try to stretch the hip in all three planes, hitting the groin, hip flexors, and hip rotators. Ankle, hip and thoracic spine mobility is always on the menu with an emphasis on driving some more internal rotation of the hip with some of Dr. Andreo Spina’s 90/90 hip CARs etc.

Activation: Nothing crazy here. We perform various forms of hip bridging (typically single leg versions), lateral band walks, band pull aparts, floor slides and FMS correctives fill this slot.

Dynamic Warm Up: Depending on the day we will perform either a linear or lateral dynamic warm up. The warm up will coincide with the rest of the training session. If it is a linear warm up we will perform linear plyo’s, linear sled work, and a linear based conditioning session. If it is a lateral warm up we will perform lateral plyo’s, lateral sled work, and lateral based conditioning.

Everything is slightly different depending on the team and their specific needs, but generally speaking it looks relatively close. In this 25-30 minute period we try to address as many of the movement based needs of the athlete as we can in the warm up period before we touch a weight, so that when they do touch a weight they are moving better and thoroughly warmed up. Nothing is left for chance and there is a system for everything we do.

Turning Conditioning Into A Weapon

“If you want to improve your conditioning and turn it into a weapon then you must work on it year round.” – Joel Jamieson

In my opinion, one of the biggest mistakes strength coaches make in their off-season programs is not maintaining adequate conditioning levels throughout the entire off-season. In a lot of cases, conditioning gets overlooked for other qualities during the off-season period, with a conditioning only becoming a focus 4-8 weeks out leading into the season.

conditioning

I obviously understand that conditioning can’t be put at the forefront during the off-season as other qualities are ahead on the pecking order, but I do believe some level of conditioning needs to be maintained throughout the off-season. Simply put, to get into the appropriate shape that will be needed to get an athlete through the rigors of the entire competitive season, and get through it as healthy as possible, a handful of weeks of dedicated conditioning isn’t going to be enough.

As an example, any college strength coach will tell you that it takes time to develop the necessary strength and power to compete at a high level in college. Additionally, any sport coach will tell you that you can’t practice your sport for a couple of weeks and think that the teams’ tactical skills will be at an appropriate level.

Why would conditioning be any different?

As Joel Jamieson states in his book Ultimate MMA Conditioning:

“You can have great strength and power but without proper cardiovascular development and muscular endurance, you won’t have the energy you need to put your strength to good use as the fight (sport) wears on.”

What coaches need to realize is that all the strength and power in the world won’t make a bit of difference if an athlete doesn’t have the needed conditioning levels to use it, especially as the game/match/competition moves to the later stages. If an athletes conditioning is a weapon for them, they’ll have more fuel and a greater ability to generate power and strength at all times throughout their sporting event.

As a result, giving an athlete to access their power and strength should be the goal of any well thought out and planned sport performance program…and most athletes need to produce power and strength for a prolonged period of time!

So what’s the point?

As a coach you need to perform conditioning year round if you want to have a team or an athlete competing at their very best. Generally speaking, aerobic and anaerobic-alactic work should be developed/maintained throughout the majority of the off-season. As the athlete or team approaches the start of the season, roughly 3-4 weeks out in most cases, the focus on the conditioning program should shift to anaerobic-lactic development.

Random Thoughts: June Edition

It’s June, so that means another edition of random thoughts for the month. Here are a few thoughts that have been going through my head. Enjoy!

1. “Our responsibility as coaches is to close gaps that limit performance not create them. Give athletes what they need not what we like/want.” – Ryan Horn

2. We as coaches are often too worried about numbers in the weight room, rather then the effect the training is having on the athlete.

3. Hip extension is very important for athletes…but we need to make sure how glutes are the ones driving hip extension. Far too often you will find athletes substituting lumbar extension instead of hip extension which will lead to various other issues.

4. Athletes must be strong, but only to the extent that it can benefit them in their sport.

5. A question to ponder: Does it matter how much weight we can lift slow?

6. Piggybacking off the two previous thoughts, generally speaking, I think for team sports power is the most important, most crucial quality we can help develop. But you can’t have power without strength. The goal should be to get athletes strong enough to benefit them as much as possible in their sport and then make them as powerful as we can.

7. The two biggest issues in our field are stupidity and ego. Simply pull up some YouTube training videos and you’ll soon realize that a lot of programs are doing a lot of stupid things. Ego, on the other hand, may be the reason coaches/programs continue to do stupid things and are slow to evolve. I firmly believe people would rather continue to do what they’ve always done then make changes because they would look ‘wrong’. You don’t know what you don’t know. There is nothing wrong with changing, change means you are evolving and getting better…change is a good thing.

8. The weight room needs to be a fun, exciting, positive atmosphere. You catch more flies with honey then you do with vinegar.

9. I am without a doubt, a generalist when it comes to programming. I would say that 85-90% of what I do is the same across all teams. The differences from sport to sport come in that other 10-15%, but the big rocks are the big rocks no matter what team I am programming for.
10. Great strength coaches adapt to the needs of the players they coach and the coaches they work for.

1-Leg Hip Bridge Progression

A lot of times it’s the little things that go a long way when trying to keep athletes healthy in the long term. A perfect example is a simple 1-leg hip lift.

The 1-leg hip lift is a great exercise to help an athlete use the glutes properly ➡ as a hip extensor, which most young or weak athletes are unable to do.

Because so many athletes can’t use their glutes properly we generally see the athlete substitute lumbar extension for hip extension, which can lead to lower back issues. Teaching an athlete to not use the lumbar spine to create motion will go a long way in low back health.

Another great benefit to the hip lift is teaching the athlete to use the glutes as a hip extensor instead of overusing the hamstrings. Using the glutes and hamstrings together as a hip extensor will play a role in decreasing hamstring injuries down the road.

Finally, the hip lift will help develop some flexibility in the hip flexors because of the reciprocal nature of the exercise – it is impossible to both contract the glutes while also contracting the hip flexors. As a result, we get a stretch on the front side hip flexor.

  1. Isometric Leg Lock Hip Lift
  2. Isometric Tennis Ball Hip Lift
  3. Tennis Ball Hip Lift (reps)
  4. Marching Hip Lift


Typically the hip lift is simply incorporated into the warm up period as an ‘activation’ exercise

20 Thought Provoking Gray Cook Quotes

Recently I was skimming through Movement by Gray Cook as I typically do every once in a while with some of the better material out there. The first thing I noticed – Gray has a ton of good quotes that really make you think. And since I’m all about things that make you think a little and grow as a strength coach, I thought I would share some of the quotes that I found to be the most thought provoking. It should be noted that I also went back through a lot of my notes I have taken on podcasts that Gray has been a part of.

Enjoy!

1. Unless you find the driver of bad movement and find the thing that changes it, you’re just guessing.
2. The essence of power is efficiency.
3. Poor movement can exist anywhere in the body but poor movement patterns can only exist in the brain.
4. Strength coaches should like qualities more then they do quantities.
5. Pain is not the problem it’s the signal.
6. Load a bad pattern and your just hitting save on a shitty document.
7. Are you moving poorly because you are in pain? Or are you in pain because you are moving poorly?
8. You can often prove stupidity, but you can rarely fix it.
9. Your brain is too smart to allow you to have full horsepower in a bad body position – it’s called muscle inhibition.
10. When someone leaves the weight room they should have a stamp of durability.
11. The point of lifting weights is to force stress into movement patterns.
12. The lift is over when your prime movers are smoked – lifting is not self limiting.
13. When someone hits the end on a carry, the carry is over because the prime movers can’t take over.
14. It’s not your lifting strength that matters, its how long you can maintain integrity under load.
15. Not everyone deserves the same program.
16. Many athletes are injured, they just don’t know it yet.
17. Our number one job is to improve efficiency of movement.
18. Don’t look at my workouts, look at my outcomes.
19. Stabilizers don’t do their job by being strong, they do their job by being fast.
20. Maintain the squat, train the deadlift.

Goals of the Ice Hockey Off-Season

It could be said, and rightly so, that hockey players are made in the off-season. The success that a player has during the season can in many cases be traced back to the work they put in as the season ended in the spring and the long summer months leading into the fall pre-season.

Whether you are an older, advanced hockey player or a young up and coming player, here are a handful of goals any good off-ice training program will have in order to have you playing at an optimal level come September/October.

Restore Balance
Due in large part to the long season spent on the ice, players typically have developed a handful of postural and muscular imbalances that need to be addressed. Anyone who works with the hockey population can rattle these areas off in an instant. Any type of physical assessment, whether it be the Functional Movement Screen or any other screening tools that you use, can quickly bring some of these issues to your attention. Typically, a handful of these issues you will find are;

• Lack of shoulder mobility
• Lack of hip mobility
• Lack of ankle mobility
• Tight hip flexors
• Weak glutes
• Over-worked/strained groins

Think about the position a hockey player finds themselves in all the time; hunched over in a flexed hip posture. Players are not only in this position on the ice, but when sitting on the bench, sitting in the locker room, and on the bus going to and from games. It’s no wonder they have so many predictable issues.

Taylor Hall

Though any well thought out off-ice program should be performing it year round, spending ample time focusing on mobility exercises that target areas prone to imbalanced and stiffness needs to be a top priority. Movements like V-Stance T-Spine, Floor Slides, Quadruped Adductor Rock, Spiderman variations, and Ankle mobility exercises are highly recommended on a daily basis to keep athletes moving well and efficiently.

In addition to making mobility a priority, a well designed strength program can help to improve many of these issues, and probably in a relatively short time. In addition to making mobility a priority, it is critical that early in the off-season hockey athletes pay special attention to uni-lateral strength training in order to help ‘balance’ an athlete out. This leads right into the second point.
Get Stronger
Not to say it is impossible to get stronger during the in-season period, cause it isn’t,  but the off-season is obviously the time that the most gains in strength will be seen. And it doesn’t have to be and probably shouldn’t be very complicated. Our basic menu of exercises are made up of the following…

• RFE Split Squat
• 1-Leg Squat and Dead Lift
• Trap Bar Dead Lift
• Chin Up
• Bench Press
• Row’s
• Anti-Extension and Anti-Rotation Core work

RFE Split SQ

During the off-season we spend a lot of time lifting and lifting heavy. Our rep ranges we rarely get above 8 reps (they may at times) for a strength exercises and will generally stay between 3-8 reps.

We also spend a ton of time getting strong on one leg. Beyond the fact that skating/hockey is a sport played on one leg, training on one leg helps to balance out some of the postural/muscular imbalanced previous discussed. Getting strong (preferably on one leg) will correct a lot of potential issues and also go a long way in keeping a hockey player healthy in the upcoming season. Just don’t be afraid to load them up!
Develop Speed/Power/Explosiveness
When young athletes walk into the weight room it is somewhat easy to get them more powerful – simply getting stronger on the basic lifts is going to accomplish the goal of increasing power and/or explosiveness.

However, as athletes get older and become stronger simply increasing max strength will contribute less and less to improving explosiveness. At some point, building a bigger bench press or a bigger squat will do very little when it comes to developing a more explosive athlete. There becomes a point where strong enough is strong enough, otherwise powerlifters would be some of the best team sport athletes in the world.

This is why placing an emphasis of movements that have the potential to increase power, increase explosiveness, increase speed need to be a part of the program. Keep it simple when it comes to developing power with exercises/movements like;

• Olympic Lifts/Variations
• Linear Speed Development
• Lateral Speed Development
• Jumps/Plyo’s
• Med Ball Throws
• Sled Work

Currently we have played around with pairing many of these power movements together in order to have our athletes working through what we would consider a ‘power’ block. After our warm up period, we will have a power period that looks something like this;

• Sled or Speed Development
• Med Ball
• Med Ball
• Plyo/Jump

Our thought process is that pairing these exercises in a sequence like this allows us to train all these qualities but also supply enough time to rest between each individual movement. I am not 100% sold on this, but it is what we tried in this previous off-season.

Improve Conditioning
One of the places that I think most off-ice programs miss the boat is conditioning – or the lack of conditioning in the off-season. Being strong is great. Being powerful is great. But you need to have the ability to express that strength and power over the course of a hockey game – you need to be in great shape and focus on conditioning year round.

Hockey is an alactic-aerobic sport, meaning an athlete needs to perform high intensity efforts for a short period of time followed by lower intensity intervals. As a result, the off-ice conditioning program needs to revolve around high intensity intervals followed by low intensity (rest) periods. Things like…

• Tempo Runs: great for slowly building the aerobic system
• Shuttle Runs: high velocity sprints along with change of direction
• Slideboard Work: conditioning in the frontal plane along with conditioning the groin for the rigors of a long hockey season

Additionally, not getting out of shape is probably the easiest way to get into shape.

Minimize Time On Ice
Though it may be unpopular with most players, getting off the ice in the off-season is one of the best things a hockey player can do for themselves. As previously mentioned, summer is the only time when the hockey player can correct some of the muscular and postural issues that occur as a result of a long season. Getting off the ice is the only way that these issues can be fixed.

As a side note, this hip flexed rounded over posture is the reason the majority of our conditioning consists of some type of running in the off-season. Getting players out of hip flexion and into hip extension is vital. In an ideal world we would spend very little time on a bike in the off-season.

Additionally, from a psychological standpoint, getting off the ice and spending some time doing other things will only help when the season rolls back around. Getting off the ice, feeling better physically, feeling rejuvenated mentally, will lead to an excited and motivated player once they hit the ice in the pre-season.